By Laurel Nelson, contributing writer with Salon Today
It’s 4:30 a.m. and Denise Deering is getting up to start her day. She doesn’t have to be on the road for her one-hour, 15-minute commute until 6:30 a.m., but this is her time to eat breakfast, have coffee, check her email and deal with any personal matters that need her attention.
By the time she hits the road for the trip from San Francisco to Juut Salon in Palo Alto, the master colorist is already focused on the day ahead of her. But first, she has a call to make from the car.
Juut has a program that employs people with special needs to take care of various tasks in the salon, so every morning during her drive, Deering gives the woman who launders towels a 6:45 wake-up call.
Once she hits Palo Alto, she usually grabs a coffee before arriving at the salon 30-45 minutes prior to her first client.
“I need that time to set up my day,” she says. “I make sure I have foils, check my schedule from the night before to see if anything changed, and look for opportunities on the schedule to cross-sell a haircut.”
ALL SYSTEMS A GO
Deering has been working as a colorist at Juut for 23 years and produces $500,000 in retail and service revenue each year behind the chair—with no assistant. And for the past 16 or 17 years, she has taken home a six-figure salary.
“It didn’t happen overnight,” she says. “I built up to it and learned through my mistakes.”
Nowadays, Deering keeps her systems tight by continually pushing herself to work more efficiently while delivering the best service to her clients.
Once her first client comes in, between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., she’s in the salon all day. “I usually don’t leave,” she says. “I either bring lunch or have it delivered.”
This allows her to fill the gaps in her day and accommodate any last-minute requests.
“If an extra gloss or treatment isn’t on the book, I’ll just do it—it’s not any time, and if I’m glossing or conditioning at the shampoo bowl, I can shampoo, rinse color, put gloss on, go finish another client and come back,” Deering says. “Glosses and conditioning treatments buy me time, so the client isn’t sitting there waiting for me to blow dry them.”
Knowing her schedule inside and out is what allows Deering to offer these add-on services without panicking or getting behind.
Part of her routine is checking her schedule every day—weeks and months out—to make sure everything is lined up properly and every client is booked for the right service. Then she fills in the gaps.
“I do blocked booking,” Deering explains. “The shampoo and finish time are built into each appointment. So if a client is getting a haircut after color, 15 minutes can be shaved off their time because I don’t have to do the blow dry.”
When this happens, Deering takes advantage of the extra time and consults with a guest who’s waiting.
“The thing I don’t like seeing on my book is a 15-minute gap,” she says. “Let’s say a tint was scheduled at 8 a.m. and a foil was booked at 9 a.m., instead of at 8:45. That 15-minute opening messes up my schedule. Three or four of those 15-minute gaps add up to a whole appointment time and sometimes even two appointment times.”
To combat this, Deering works closely with the front desk. She asks them to move guests up or down so she can squeeze in another guest.
When new hires are trained at the front desk, Deering meets with them one-on-one and explains how she works and what they can do with and without her permission.
“For example, if they want me to stay later or come in earlier, that’s usually fine,” she says. “If I can’t stay, I usually make a note.”
RULES FOR RETAIL
Naturally, Deering has systems for retail, too. The main rule she follows is trying new strategies regularly to see what works.
“I’ll play little games with myself to see if I have some sort of magical gift or if I need to put in the effort,” she says. “So some weeks I won’t talk about retail to see where that lands me.”
It turns out, it lands her at the bottom of the barrel.
“If I don’t explain or talk about products, my retail goes way down.”
Recently, she decided to try something new with blow drying and used a few Velcro rollers on the top of her clients’ heads to create more volume in the blowout. She explained how they would get more volume and lift and incorporated the right products to enhance it.
The result? Deering did $1,200 in retail that week.
“A lot of the clients liked the look, so they bought the rollers and product,” she says.
“It’s all about showing them and talking to them about it. They don’t know how to style, and what will be easy and convenient for them.”
Deering says even clients who have been with you for years can always be shown something new.
“That’s why I love new products,” she says. “They don’t know if their hair is dry, damaged, etc. And they don’t know what to use or the why behind it. But if you educate them, they’re more apt to buy the products.”
About 10 percent of Deering’s clients come in every two weeks for color touch-ups, and she’s aware they won’t buy products every time, but she has an angle for them, too.
“If they travel a lot, I let them know about our travel sizes—especially if Aveda comes out with something new in a travel size,” she says.
“I’m not pushy. It’s just about giving them the tools to recreate the look.’
For new guests, she asks them their preference on products and always explains why and how she cocktails products together.
“They usually aren’t paying attention, so show them how you do it,” she says.
Deering is also pro-active when pre-booking clients. The guests who come in every two weeks book out for the whole year, and everyone else usually books one or two appointments out.
In September and early October, Deering lets clients know they need to book through the rest of the year if they want specific appointments around the holidays.
Her clients know just how busy she is, so they book accordingly.
YOU CAN DO IT, TOO
You don’t have to get up at 4:30 a.m. to emulate Deering’s success. If you’re lucky, your commute is more like 15 minutes rather than 75 minutes. However, you do have to be consistent and practice good systems—every day.
“The biggest mistake people make is not being present or in the moment.”
“When I get to work, I never check my phone. That’s wasted time for me. If you create good habits and routine, you can perfect that and make it better.”
Deering never wastes time on negative energy, either.
“If a client is late, a lot of stylists waste time thinking about how that will affect their day rather than just grabbing another client and getting to work. If someone’s late, I still take them.”
“I always find a way to accommodate and do something for the guest.”
Rather than getting overwhelmed and flustered for clients and co-workers to see, Deering likens herself to a duck, always paddling like mad underneath, but calmly gliding along the surface.
“In my mind, I’m already forecasting my day, which is intimidating to some people,” she says. “But when you look at the whole schedule, it’s important to remember all those people won’t be there at once!”
When asked for advice, Deering says to create good habits you can improve upon and also have a strong foundation of the basics.
“If you don’t have a strong foundation, the rest will be a problem,” she says. “Even simple things like how quickly you can get a tint on or a basic foil are important. You have to get your timing down—I always try to decrease my time and get faster.”
Most importantly, Deering says you should look at what you need to do in the morning to have a successful, smooth day.
“I have that because I’ve created my habits,” she says. “I don’t feel rushed, and when I get to work that’s my main focus.”